Mastaba: The Building Block of Ancient Egyptian Architecture.

Saqqara Mastaba

This is a typical elemental Egyptian mastaba, the simplest structure of Ancient Egyptian buildings.

The above image shows a standard Egyptian mastaba, the simplest structure of Ancient Egyptian buildings, whose form resembles a single brick. At its simplest definition, a mastaba comprises a small, house-like building whose external walls are constructed in a trapezoidal shape, creating a basic geometrical outline.

In fact, a mastaba is just a simple one-step pyramid, but they do share the same afterlife purpose. For this reason, it is likely that they were the fundamental structural foundation of all of Ancient Egypt's magnificent architecture.

Therefore, a mastaba is just a simple one-step pyramid, but they do share the same afterlife purpose. For this reason, it is likely that they were the fundamental structural foundation of all of Ancient Egypt's magnificent architecture. Other than Sakkara and Giza Valley, there are numerous stupendous stone brick mastabas of further excellent and exceptional standing throughout Egypt. However, while this particular mastaba was built at the Sakkara compound, its construction only dates back to the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty period, around the twenty-fifth century BC. Thus, it is relatively young when compared to others in this ancient compound.

Nonetheless, this mastaba was chosen because its building components demonstrate the most essential design elements that define a simple mastaba's structural form. This includes the remarkably consistent trapezoidal design that mastabas, whether colossal or small, have maintained throughout various millennia.

The above mastaba was constructed using the primary architectural structure that became the precursor, the most fundamental design, from which pyramids, temples, and most other Egyptian Pharaonic building structures likely came. In other words, it can be said that mastabas were the Keystone, the basic building block of Ancient Egyptian sacred architecture.

Mastabas were used as tombs for the Pharaohs during the First and Second Dynasties at Abydos, apparently following earlier traditions from pre-dynastic times. They resemble ancient tent-shrines depicted or carved in antiquity, which had sky significance. Mastabas were also built in alignment with the cardinal points, as were the later temples in Pharaonic Egypt.

One possibility is that the mastabas original role, before they were put to use as tombs or shrines, was to perform a function of mandatory astronomical observation. This takes into account that early mastabas were made out of perishable construction materials, and sky watchers needed to make observations and record astronomic movements. The need for such structures led to the discovery of new, far more advantageous building techniques.

The original construction materials were substituted by far more durable ones much later on, as the people came to believe that whatever they saved in this world would be replicated even better in the afterlife. For this reason, it became necessary to endow mastabas with the concept of extreme durability. This was later associated with the idea that these buildings were made for eternal existence, imbued with the capability to host spirits in the sky forever and ever.

Indeed, by drilling holes in the ceiling and walls of the mastaba, it became possible to collect detailed information on the sun's trajectory through the sky over the period of an entire year. This procedure was accomplished by measuring the width, length and direction of the sun's projected rays as they entered the building through these holes. This is also allowed for the constant surveillance of the movements of shadows cast during the day, which was another method of solar observation. This allowed the person or persons responsible for watching the sun's yearly Sky mechanics to accurately predict dates and events in the year, as with a modern calendar.

Astronomy was tedious but not difficult work to perform; this was combined with the desire to make others believe that astronomers possessed extraordinary knowledge of impressive magnitude. It's possible that the Astronomers took advantage of their knowledge, which was to be kept in strict secrecy, to created their own myths. Mastabas were thus imbued with magical powers of communication-based on their astronomical advantages, as astronomers pondered how they had control over all the moving objects in the celestial sphere, both day and night. This make-believe idea was even complemented with the possibility of contacting a mythical supernatural being, supposedly living in an imaginary invisible place in the sky.

Although these astronomers only pretended to have mystical powers, nevertheless these communications were transmitted to the people through the use of these premises and were thus accepted. As time went by, these ideas, while they may have had differed depending on the time and place, would gradually have been taken to be real and irrefutable. This resulted in the mastaba's primary concepts being settled solidly in beliefs that greatly proliferated over time.

Although these astronomers only pretended to have mystical powers, nevertheless these communications were transmitted to the people through the use of these premises and were thus accepted. As time went by, these ideas, while they may have had differed depending on the time and place, would gradually have been taken to be real and irrefutable. This resulted in the mastaba's primary concepts being settled solidly in beliefs that greatly proliferated over time.

These particular significances in regards to the utility and features of such buildings help to explain why later mastabas were used as tombs. Since they were considered indispensable for accurately calculating the sky mechanics in this world, they could also perform the same desired necessities in the afterlife. This became another real, precious function that mastabas stood for.

Over time, mastabas evolved into bigger and higher buildings, which led to their becoming precursors of Pharaonic sacred architecture. This fact can be easily verified by observing this identical trapezoidal form across all the buildings built during the Egyptian Pharaonic period.

Seti II Kanak Shrine

Karnak: Trapezoidal Mastaba–like, three frontal doors, 19th Dynasty Shrine, built during Pharaoh Seti II (1200-1194 BC.).

At the main door entrance to the Karnak temple compound, at the left side of the western pylons, we can see the shrine that was built by Pharaoh Seti II (1200 - 1194 BC). This monarch was the direct grandson of the renowned Pharaoh Ramses II (The Great Constructor). Seti II was one of the last Pharaohs of the 19th Egyptian Dynasty, in spite of, or perhaps because, he ruled through an awkward period of throne rivalries. Pharaoh Seti II was also known to be the consort of the female Pharaoh Tausret (1191 – 1189 BC.) a woman who took the power as Pharaoh after his death. These are possible reasons that motivated people to continually to do damage to this revered enclosure.

This shrine, or small temple, still maintains the original mastaba trapezoidal structure, in use since pre-dynastic times. While based on the original design, the shrine's volume was increased, as the Pharaoh was a central public figure in more numerous ceremonies in attendance. Three doors were added to the façade, and the interior shrine walls were ornamented with multiple windows like small niches. The overall general structure, shape and decorative motifs were enhanced but did not suffer significant conceptual changes. The building presents the traditional tubular structures on top and in the corners, and the cornice also continues showing its papyrus-like forms over the roof. Because, the owners were expected to provide decorative items as a base for their afterlife concepts. These practices were in common use through most Pharaonic Egyptian architecture.

Karnak became the new Egyptian empire's temple compound dedicated to the god Amon. It is located in the Luxor area, otherwise known as ancient Thebes, then the Egyptian capital city during this time period. Its architects knew it had to be the biggest temple complex ever built by any kingdom in the world to properly consecrate their god.

Karnak became the new Egyptian empire's temple compound dedicated to the god Amon. It is located in the Luxor area, otherwise known as ancient Thebes, then the Egyptian capital city during this time period. Its architects knew it had to be the biggest temple complex ever built by any kingdom in the world to properly consecrate their god.

The interior walls of Pharaoh Seti II's shrine were ornamented with naval themes. Two of the walls were decorated with the same type of boats, presenting wishful sky navigation possibilities. This shows that mastabas, like temples, contained the same ornamentation through the use of boats and navigation-related themes. Additionally, the bow and sterns of the pictured vessels were decorated with symbolic adornments, including a semi-circle of figures surmounted by a god's face. One has the face of the god Khnum, who was a divine being, a deity related to the Sun God. More boats were carved into the rock panel, and the areas in front of and behind them were also present in images of their god Khnum.

Another image shows a falcon's face resting on a moon arch, which is a representation of the god Khensu, and the other that of the Ram, which such stands for the god Khnum. Khensu was the third aspect of Karnak Temple Triad. The Karnak Triad was composed of three gods: the god Amon, the goddess Nut, his wife, and the God Khensu, their offspring. Together they comprised the stellar gods of ancient Thebes, Egypt's "Middle Empire" capital city.

However, the God Khensu, even as he was depicted with a falcon's face like the gods Horus or Heru. Also had moon iconography incorporated in his head, rather than the sun circle that Heru or Horus had. According to this detail, the God Khensu should not be considered a solar or sun-deity; instead, he was being presented as a lunar or moon deity.

This graphical evidence shows the two gods' images navigating apart through two different worlds. This artistic concept indicates that Ancient Egyptians shared a belief in two stellar afterlife worlds, which, as might be expected, also held two sets of entirely different characteristics, implying distinct heavenly places in the sky.

Ancient Egyptians assigned the God Khensu to the moon's cycle, and Khemennu or Khnum to the sun's orbit, as they were aware that the moon and the sun travel in the sky at different altitudes. Based on the distances of the sun and moon from Earth, it follows that these celestial bodies must have had different hierarchical levels. However, it is difficult to accurately state what they thought, as their beliefs were based on mere visual appreciations of the sky and their imagination.

Esna Temple

Esna Temple: Is a typical trapezoidal and rectangular mastaba-like Egyptian temple, where this Mastaba-Temple design relation can be appreciated.

Egyptian temples were constructed, with the same structural form as mastabas. Thus, a reason why, they created their temples with trapezoidal walls in a rectangular building arrangement, whose primary structure bear a resemblance to a building block like a Mastaba. Although Temples were made with much larger dimensions and additional magnificent sumptuous decoration.

On top of the temple, a cornice was added using decorative reeds or papyrus plants, likely representing the imaginary Reed marshes of the Sky Eternal Waters. On grounds, of an Ancient Egyptian concept similar to the Greek Champs de Elysee or Elysian fields, a final recompensing resting place for their spirits, somewhere in the afterlife.

The building's total constructed form is completed by a structural ensemble made of four ark-shaped walls. Each wall is framed by a straight lintel or rectangular beam, which rests over two column jambs at the extreme ends. These were made with to be filled with bricks to create a sturdy wall arrangement.

The main outer façade faces the eastern horizon, and its frontal lintel is sustained by six extra round columns. These round columns are placed between the two sharp-angled edge columns to configure the far corners of the entire building. Also, the columns are distributed so that when the sun shines in the morning, its rays enter through the openings between the columns. These create seven window-like demarcation entries, which project seven rectangular segments of light on the opposite side wall at the western side of the temple. This strongly indicates that the columns were placed with the intention to use the sun's rays to calculate dates and precise yearly events.

Panels were also built between the columns and jambs to provide privacy in the interior of the temple, which is decorated with carved and painted elaborate ritualistic or mythological motifs. Indeed, it is an effective way to illustrate the function of these niches, showing scenes related to the ceremonial happenings, that were performed in the temple's interior and their supposed sky or heavenly significance.

Esna Temple Zodiac

Esna Zodiac Temple ceiling, with double rectangular sectors, and central Equatorial or Ecliptic line representation.

Esna and Dendera Temples are splendid examples of ancient Zodiac illustrations, which were carved and painted on the temple's roof. Even though that these frescos belong to a time period later than the Pharaonic era, showing a strong Greek and Roman influence. Nonetheless, from an astronomy standing point of view, presents the Zodiac, as a rectangular sector in the Sky. Remarked by the plotted Sun, Moon and planetary trajectories, following the daily Sun path, known as the Ecliptic, passing through the Equatorial line (The middle of the Sky Sphere) during the year.

In this allegory, eiher the Equatorial or the Ecliptic line is drawn as an a straight double line at the middle of the entire mythological figures panel, representing the sun path through a Zodiacal sector. Were, can be appreciated, Libra, Scorpio and Geminis signs, from left to right at the bottom of the illustration, using similar figures as they are known today.
All these Zodiac Houses representations are drawn in straight line, for the reason that the thought that Earth and Sky were not spherical, but two overlapping rectangular planes.

Although, too elemental, but is good to remain that the ecliptic is an imaginary line representing the sun's path, which encircles the sky sphere and crosses the equatorial line twice during a year's cycle. Hence a circle that has day and night sectors, and summer, autumn, winter and spring divisions during the Year.
An area in the Sky, during the night, where it is possible to observe the moon and planets passing along an oscillatory path going up and down the Equatorial line, creating a band like sector across the entire sky sphere.
This planetary oscillating movement in depicted in the sky as an imaginary rectangular band, 18 degrees high by 360 degrees wide, which is the total ecliptic's circular trajectory around the sky. In other words, a conception of a sky mechanics sector that is known as the Zodiac.

Bottom line, the Zodiac is a sky band were the Stars, Sun, Moon and Planetary arrangement precise our time and dates. Although, in ancient times, also thought as the heavenly place related to the afterworld. For such, mastabas, shrines and temples were built using that particular rectangular form, since the rectangle represented the Zodiac, a place somewhere in the Sky. Likely though, as the place of precedence and were they eventually hoped to return in the afterlife.

Karnak Temple Barge

This temple's outer wall, built at Karnak's complex, presents large scale boat ornamentations.

Many of the external and internal walls of Ancient Egyptian temples were also decorated representations of with immense barges, which comprised most of the temples' allegories. The rectangular shape of a temple represented either a sector or the entire zodiacal band in the sky sphere. However, the idea of the temple floating in the sky or standing in the air, as might be expected when living in the sky, did not have a sufficient sense of stability. On the other hand, using the image of a large barge floating on a giant river created a feeling of safety, habitability, and mobility.

Ancient Egyptians ornamented the interior and external walls of their temples with large-scale barge motifs to give the required credibility to their beliefs corresponding to the place in the Sky that they were expected to reach in the afterlife. These motives stood to transmit the appropriate sensation to the temple, anticipating a supposed watery world in the afterlife. On the other hand, representations of small boats on a wall also provide an enormous perception of the immenseness of the heavens.

The length of Nile River extends over 6,000 kilometers of land, from Aswan to the Delta; however, its width is only 2.8 kilometers across. This creates a peculiar trajectory that also depicts a rectangular region, much like the Zodiac. This created a much-needed reference point when comparing or attempting to explain the relation of a mere rectangular shape to the sky.

The waves follow the path of the river, which has relation to the water element, the symbol of life. Ancient Egyptians used these ornamental motifs to sustain their theoretical beliefs of afterlife existence in the sky. A temple's vessel adornment motifs were of primary importance; the temple was thought to stand for the area in the sky where the Zodiac is located. Thus, a boat was considered to be a necessary means to fulfill their wishful expectations by permitting them to navigate, following the sun's path in the afterlife.

Boats in Ancient Egypt had a great utility role, as they were a fast and reliable transportation system. They covered the needs of people to communicate and perform their daily work along the entire country, whose topographic extension is determined by the Nile River. The Nile River, due to the accidental facets of the terrain on the eastern side of the river, offered significant benefits for agricultural production. Agriculture was abundant, as the river had periodic yearly floods cycles which brought sufficient nutrient-rich humus and secured a successful harvest along the river's entire trajectory path.

However, the land on the west side of the river, since its terrain had a higher river bank level, was a waterless and desolate land. Instead of having usable fertile land for agricultural purposes, the west side, was a dry, infertile place, making it the perfect place to bury the dead. The circumstances made it possible for Ancient Egyptians to take advantage of the terrain's dryness about the conservation of the dead bodies; hence, the western side provided the perfect burial place.

Bridges were not needed in Ancient Egypt, because of the country's unique geography and erratic behavior of the river inundations over a yearly period. It is important to consider that boats required in order not only to navigate the river but to go across the river as well; in other words, a boat was needed to reach the burial grounds. Consequently, this situation had much to do about forging the Ancient Egyptians' spiritual life concepts and beliefs about the afterlife.

Ancient Egyptians reasoned that if their body had to travel the west bank of the river in a boat to reach the burial place. Then their Spirit also would have to navigate towards the stars to reach its everlasting abode in the sky or heaven. For such, it was believed that in the afterlife, the dead would continue to live in a place, where they were meant to follow the same living standards as in this living world. A boat was a feasible necessity and a required element to carry out all their wishful resting place desires. Therefore, ships were needed to ensure well-being as their promised paradise in the western sky was only reachable by this means.

In the ancient city of Thebes (today Luxor), boats were also included in ritualistic ceremonies to realize some religious activities. An artificial lake was even created in the middle of the compound grounds so that real ceremonial vessels were able to take part in the festivities on certain occasions.

The Nile River is about thousand miles long, which facilitated the inhabitants of the entire kingdom to come by boat to participate in these festival activities. Many circumstances prompted a significant number of people to arrive in mass at the temple area to attend. This was one of the reasons why Karnak flourished as the biggest human temple complex ever built in the entire world.

Solar & Mortuary Temples Mastaba Link.

Pharaoh Unas Mortuary Temple

The mastabas' trapezoidal shape and afterlife concepts are expected to be the main inspiration and motivations which led to the design and construction of the ancient solar & mortuary temples of the Pharaonic era.

During the Ancient Egyptian Pharaonic period, a mortuary temple was constructed to perform funerary and post-funerary ceremonies about the Pharaoh to whom this memorial was dedicated. Coming from Cairo in the direction of Sakkara, the building pictured above stands just a short distance from the main entry to this sacred royal compound. This particular mortuary temple was built in reverence to Pharaoh Unas (2375-2345 BC), the last ruler of the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty.

How were these structures built? To construct a mortuary temple, first of all, the Ancient Egyptians made a high trapezoidal platform structure resembling a mastaba. They used a ramp to carry the stone blocks, where they assembled a solid platform one over the other until they finished the section to the required area and height. The ramp was kept as admittance to the top of the platform, providing access to other decorative fixtures.

The mortuary temples were built at a particular distance from the burial-places but nevertheless had extraordinary significance through commemorative ceremonies. They were chiefly used for Day-Sky funerary ceremonies since the dead pharaoh was considered to be the Sun God on earth at the time of his death. After sunset, when the sun goes down on the horizon, the Ancient Egyptians believed that the sun had died. Nonetheless, they knew the sun would rise again the next day as a symbol of a renewed spirit, by the coronation ceremony when a new king ascended the throne.

However, they also believed that the Pharaoh would be transformed into or became part of Osiris, the god and judge of the dead. Osiris represented the night sun and the afterlife promise of living in the sky with plentiful enhanced pleasures. This was given to all those who qualified and were rewarded with eternal life.

Most of the ceremonies associated with eternity took place in the underground chambers of the pyramid rather than the mortuary temple. This resulted in a single location that was only consecrated for the reverence of the Pharaoh's spirit. Consequently, the other was done for his body, creating a profound and significant reason as to why they might have built two temple enclosures for each Pharaoh.

Before the new Pharaoh was raised to the throne and permitted to become king of Egypt, he had to pass through several unique ritualistic ceremonies. Believed to allowed the spirit of the God Heru or Horus (the Sun God) to incarnate in the Pharaoh's body. The result is that the Pharaoh was taken as divine and had the rights to govern the kingdom as such, reigning on Earth as the God Horus himself, and the utmost symbol of the daylight sky sphere.

These premises built in the shape of a solar temple; there is no doubt that they also were built and consecrated for the purpose of worshiping their Sun God, as well. The Sun God was thought to be the day's eternal living power, the everlasting source of life. According to such beliefs, the Sun was the symbol that reunited the spirits of all the Pharaohs that ever ruled Egypt.

It is likely for this reason that the Pharaoh's spirit was praised in the mortuary temple, making reference to his intellectual awareness or self-spirit. After his disappearance, the Pharaoh continued to be considered a sun deity represented by the sun itself. He became the very God that rises in the sky every day, a continual symbol of rebirth and eternal life.

Mortuary temples were sacred sites where family and others revered the Pharaoh as a supernatural solar being. The Pharaoh was believed to be the living image of their Sun God, and this temple represented the imaginary place in the day sky, where the Sun God dwelt.

A short distance from the temple pictured above can be seen the Sakkara compound, where Pharaoh Unas also built a pyramid to be the final resting place for his mummy in the middle of the funeral compound.

Una's pyramid is a well-renowned place of interest, despite the fact that this pyramid is only 40 meters high. In comparison to the enormous pyramids built at Dashur and Giza Valleys that go from 65 to 150 meters high, for such, considered to be small from the standard. However, this pyramid is well known because Unas was the first Pharaoh to ornament the walls of his underground burial chambers with hieroglyphs in relief.

These hieroglyphs in the interior of the pyramid are known today as "pyramids texts", a decorative practice never seen before Unas' time. Pyramid ornamentations underwent countless changes and improvements, which eventually proliferated throughout Egypt and were established as devout traditions that often lasted beyond the practices of pyramid entombment. These pyramid texts acted as a precursor idea, which in later times inspired ornamental paintings of large dimensions. Like the ones that were used to decorate numerous tombs that can be seen today in the "Valley of the Kings", west of Luxor city.

Pharaoh Mentuhotep II Temple

Pharaoh Mentuhotep II's funerary temple at West Valley, Luxor.

The above photograph shows the funerary temple of Pharaoh Mentuhotep II (11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C., the first ruler of the Middle Empire) at Dei el Bahari, West Luxor Valley. The structured base is that of a mortuary temple, which also has the trapezoidal mastaba-style primary construction.

This building is far more voluminous than the temple of Pharaoh Unas, as it was made about 300 or more years later. It was also built with the intention to accommodate and withstand the weight of a significantly larger number of people. Who, were allowable to participate in the burial and other appropriate ritualistic ceremonies that were done in relation their social or administrative status during this Pharaoh's reign.

The ramp feature still remains, and the presence of base pillars on top indicates that this building once consisted of two superimposed stages. A second floor had once been added, now completely destroyed. However, its structure and conceptual characteristics remnants also show that besides being a mortuary temple as well had a Solar Temple added on top. To observe the Sun movements and realize all the corresponding concernment rituals to this matter.

Nonetheless, besides its structural information this Temple is also showing a Center influence change, from Memphis to Thebes and burial tendencies from Pyramid to another sort of burial place.

Pharaoh Hatshepsut Funerary Temple

To build this temple, it was necessary to mount three terraces, superimposed on top of each other much like the Pyramids were built.

This image beside showing Pharaoh Hatshepsut Funerary Temple at Deir el-Bahari; farther on, continuing the striking multistage structure of this temple, at its right side, can be seen the Mentuhotep II temple, just covered before. Although, that it looks like an additional construction section, the farthest and smaller temple was built during the "Middle Empire" and the biggest and tallest building was made during the "New Egyptian Empire" time period abot five hundre years later.

As the years went by and the population and wealth of Egypt flourished, the size of the temples also grew equally much bigger. This triple terrace mortuary temple was built for the female pharaoh Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BC., Egyptian 18th Dynasty New Empire period), at these same site West of Luxor. The construction and supervision of this building, was made by the Royal Chancellor and Architect Senenmut, who designed, planned and directed the edification of this architectonic jewel.

Mentuhotep II's temple, which can be seen on the right side, is completely diminished by the dimensions of this newer assembly. However, Queen Hatshepsut's fundamental temple architectural concepts, even so that included three superimposed terraces and numerous decorative pillars, undoubtedly was inspired by the earlier king Mentuhotep II's edification. Despite the passage of five hundred years, the same basic trapezoidal mastaba root structure did not change. These detail also shows that both projects were designed following the same solar beliefs that were in practice at that time.

Mentuhotep II's temple, which can be seen on the right side, is completely diminished by the dimensions of this newer assembly. However, Queen Hatshepsut's fundamental temple architectural concepts, even so that included three superimposed terraces and numerous decorative pillars, undoubtedly was inspired by the earlier king Mentuhotep II's edification. Despite the passage of five hundred years, the same basic trapezoidal mastaba root structure did not change. These detail also shows that both projects were designed following the same solar beliefs that were in practice at that time. The designer was able to go even further in representing their profound sun-worship concepts. Each platform maintains its ascending ramp, showing that they were made to represent three equally heavenly enclosures but at different selective levels. The total assembly creates a three level solar temple compound. The architect used the superimposed terraces, likely to transmit the idea of the Three Sky or Solar Circles concept which includes or multiple heaven's levels:
1- A circle representing the sun's movements during the day.
2- The yearly seasonal sun circle.
3- The circle representing the trajectory changes that the sun makes in his stars path. This third circle demarcates the eras and is the only truly Sun circle, as it happens in reality that, the earth rotates around the sun, and not the sun around the earth. However, this sun movement is not observable in the east or west horizon; instead, it is noticed at the south or north meridian line. Hatshepsut temple confirmation also provides the explanation, why the sun, besides being represented by a disk, was also represented by an eye. And that is because, to draw an eye, it is necessary the use of three circles.

When the construction of the building was finished, Senenmut proceeded to the ornamentation phase, adding a significant amount of statues and columns placed primarily on the temple's front side. The eastern side, in particular, represented the place on the horizon where the Sun rises; which, is the Sun position that permits to observe and track his daily movements in the horizon. Since the Sun cannot seem directly, using shades and light passing through the columns apertures, his regular yearly path can be traced, to elaborate a calendar. As well, satisfiying their beliefs, this setup, did show exactly every sun rise, where the Sun God supposedly was reborn every day.

Sarcophagus and Altars also engrained in Mastabas Concepts.

Pharaoh Ramses I's tomb: wall paintings in allegory; a sarcophagus in an altar or tabernacle; and a double image of the god Khemennu inside a temple.

Ancient Egyptians believed that images, actions or ceremonies, as well as the things that people did or built in this world, would be automatically replicated in the afterlife. This is the reason for the King's Valley, along the Nile River's west bank in the Luxor area. The tomb of Ramses I, First Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty (1292-1290 BC.) was carved into the rock and the walls were ornamented with numerous hieroglyphs and religious allegoric paintings.

The burial chamber walls were thoughtfully decorated with ritualistic procedures performances that the Pharaoh expected to achieve in the afterlife. It was strictly believed that whatever was accounted or represented on those walls, were undoubtedly going to be accomplished somewhere in the sky or heaven. Thus, all this illustrative work was completed to help the Pharaoh cope with any possible situations that he would encounter in the afterlife to come.

The king's tomb compound presents an overall view of a mastaba-like sanctuary, depicted in arch form with a lintel and column structure. It also includes corresponding decorative reed roof motifs as shown in the Esna Temple façade and other similar structures. The funerary arrangement involves two barges, navigating in opposite directions on each side of the illustration, which shows that these two imaginary vessels are indicating the location of this event between the east and west cardinal points.

Both vessels portray the standing image of their god Khemennu, the ram-headed ruler of the eternal waters, driving force of the universe and master of life and rebirth. For such, he is always portrayed with a green face, a symbol related to death and rebirth.

The sarcophagus, undoubtedly containing the Pharaoh's mummy, is placed on the altar, which stands in the middle of a room or mastaba-like temple. It is guarded by the double image of Khemennu standing on a barge, traveling along with two serpents each.

The snakes on top of the boat are shaped in a wave-like manner, making an arch to represent the moon's travels on the sun's ecliptic line during the year, denoting movement, thus life. The other snake's body makes a straight line and forms a figure like a lifeless serpent, akin to the two snakes decorating the external columns. Great consideration is given to the snakes in this illustration, showing their importance besides that of their mythological concept of rebirth, represented by the way snakes change their skin. This additional symbolism is evidenced by one snake drew curvilinear and the other straight; the most likely explanation is that they are representing the sky's Zodiac section and the meridian line.

This allegory also stands for a niche or false door, representing an imaginary entryway to some sacred mythological place or places in the sky or heaven. Since this, the concept is repeated as Pharaoh Ramses I's mummy is in the middle of an altar-like enclosure inside a mastaba-style precinct. Thus, evoking a multiple gateway or entry to three different concentric worlds in the afterlife.

From this world's point of view, these features are placed in the sarcophagus, the serdab, and the mastaba ground level. However, the purpose of the allegorical setup must be to emulate some kind of imaginary dwelling places or temple levels in the sky's firmament. Correspondingly, these three concentric enclosures also are probably also represent the underground, earth and sky levels. Therefore, additional interpretations can also be drawn, depending on the beliefs of that kingdom, region or group to whom it was presented, since the entire domain did not share the exact same homogeneous ideas.

Karnack altar

Altar: Built in a particular internal ritualistic chamber at Karnak's Temple complex.

This altar was placed in the middle of a temple's inner room and given that the configuration of this enclosure has descending stairs to the perimeter around the altar. It is likely that water was used symbolically to fill this space; giving the possibly that this place was made to perform ceremonies related to vivification.

Since, this temple holds a similar or closely related symbolic idea to that of Pharaoh Ramses I, wall painting allegory explained earlier, by placing one enclosure inside the other. But, for the use of water element as a primary focus. As the double presence of the God Khemennu in barges at each side of the altar confirms the idea of the surrounding water element presence.

The temple, apparently was dedicated to the local deity Amon, whose origin can be found in the creation of Ogdoad. Amon's temples were required to have the appropriate dimensions, to properly carry out the corresponding ritualistic ceremonies during the relevant dates. Amon, also called Amun, was interpreted as the "Invisible" or "Hidden" God, likely representing the sun's phase at night. Because, the sun cannot be seen as he travels from the west after the sunset to be at the east at sunrise next day in the early morning. Hence, transform and rise again as a luminous deity symbolizing its rebirth at daybreak. Thus, to satisfy this hypothetic transformation, Amon was made or configured into divine God's compound by hypothetical fashioning with Sun God Ra, the day or solar god, for such, the Karnack's priesthood come up with the combined Amon-Ra name.

Therefore, all this makes possible to state that the interior altar was made corresponding to fulfil the aspects of the name Amon, the night or lunar god, representing a symbolic night solar orbit phase similar to god Osiris concept. For such, on bases that god Osiris was thought to be capable, continuously to transform into god Heru or Horus every day. By so, from death during the entire night, to rebirth, come out to life again, at the earliest morning instant and continued living throughout the rest of the day, as the Sun ever did, and was supposed to do eternally forever and ever till the end of time

Karnak Altar

External Altar, with Mastaba-like form, built in a Karnak Temple's compound Plaza.

In contrast, this example shows an illuminated external altar, located in an open-air square at the Karnak Temple complex. Its central ritualistic importance corresponds to the god Ra, the god of day, a solar and living God.

The structure and shape of this altar also shows a pronounced similarity with the enclosure of Pharaoh Ramses I's sarcophagus illustration. It resembles a mastaba, temple or tabernacle, but with external and open air characteristics where the room is replaced or represented by an open space. However, as this altar does not have door entrance, the sides may stand as niches or false doors, in concordance with the Sky's four cardinal points.

The altar's purposes and functions can conceivably be believed to be similar or even identical to those of a mastaba or temple of that same time period. In fact, its design also resembles a scaled-down replica of Temple of Pylon; both have coverings on the surrounding edges, with tubular bamboo fixtures indicating apparent water flow around the Altar. This decorative, symbolic item is nevertheless one of great significance, as, it creates movement or flow around the entire object, and the water element was the most meaningful symbol of life. Which, represents the possibility of life, and wherever that particular rectangular-trapezoidal form is found, it is likely to represent places located in the sky's zodiacal band, most probably at the cardinal points of in trisection.

The top of the altar has a symbolic cornice, ornamented with reeds-like garden, a typical theme in Ancient Egyptian funerary decoration similar to the Elysian Fields in Europe. This indicates that Altars not only shared the same Mastaba and Temple structures but also had the same or similar concepts and significant symbolism. And obviously it was the place to present the offerings.

Mastabas, altars, pylons, temples and other similar structures, besides having definite practical world functions; nonetheless, also carried same or very similar significance. Regarding their dwellings places or living worlds concepts associated with their afterlife beliefs. As they represented a mysterious place or level places somewhere in the day or night sky; where they wishfully expected to live in eternal pleasure.

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